An early morning train from Salamanca brought me to Madrid, where a short transfer followed to Sol. Having stayed in Sol on previous visits, it had proven to be the perfect central spot to base myself. Sadly, none of the previous accommodation was somewhere I’d want to stay again, so I was trying a new hotel just a stone’s throw from Sol metro station.
After dropping my stuff in a surprisingly lovely hotel room, I was straight out to Gran Via – I had shopping to do! This was my 7th visit to Madrid in 5 months, and I was primarily here for the airport. I had to fly back to England and had a couple of days in Madrid to just relax and soak up the last Spanish vibes before leaving. There was no mad rush to see sights, and it was the perfect, pressure-free visit to just enjoy the city. And the first way I was doing that was shopping!
A few hours checking out the shops was enough for me, and I made my way back to my room to rest for a while. My friend had set me 30 challenges for the month, one a day, and today’s challenge was to hit 20,000 steps. As I laid down on the bed, the step counter was only just at 13,000. There was still the walk to get some dinner, but that definitely wouldn’t equate to 7,000 steps. So instead of resting, I took a walk to Retiro Parque. It’s one of my favourite places in Madrid, and I’ll always take any excuse to wander through there.
As the sun began to dip in the sky, I walked around the lake where people were still rowing around, and took a seat on the stone steps of the Monument to Alfonso XII. The sun sank lower in the sky, and I snapped one of my favourite photos of the whole trip.
Not wanting to be wandering around the park in the dark, I walked back to Sol, taking a bit of a detour to grab some dinner. The steps mission was still on, and I was so close! In fact, as I hobbled back to the hotel, feeling the blisters already making an appearance, the steps just ticked over 20,000. Mission accomplished, it was time to relax and soak my feet in the shower.
The next day, the plan was my favourite kind: relax. After a quick stint applying for jobs, I was back on the way to Retiro Parque. It’s a huge park in the centre of Madrid, and I always go to the same place – the lake. This time, I was going to venture to a different area. The sun was beating down, and I’d managed to pick an area with little shade to explore. Known as Bosque del Recuerdo, it is home to a memorial to the victims of the terror attack on Madrid in 2004. I quickly realised I knew very little about the terror attack in Madrid, so after moving on and finding a shady spot to sit, I read up more online about it.
Continuing my day in the park, I ventured back to…the lake! Desperate for a cold drink, the first stop was to one of the cafes surrounding the lake for a refreshing, ice cold drink. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing on a spot of grass next to the lake. It was the perfect way to finish my time in Madrid, sunbathing in my favourite spot in the city.
Come evening, I had plans to visit a rooftop bar at Círculo de Bellas Artes with Aidan from Flights and Times. After soaking up the stunning sunset views and discussing our time in the city, we found a cafe in Plaza de Jacinto Benavente to continue sharing travel stories and tips.
Early next morning, it was time to yet again pack the last of my belongings into my trusty backpack and head for the airport. This time, it was back to England. My travel insurance was only valid for a certain amount of time per trip, so I had to head back to the UK to keep myself covered. The journey was smooth, and my luck was in as each time I got to a train platform, the train would leave minutes later. Because I always give myself a little extra ‘just in case’ time, it meant that I was at the airport super early. No problem, I’d booked a business class flight using my Avios points so dropped my bag at the check in desk and made my way to relax in the comfort of one of Madrid’s lounges.
The flight home was very comfortable, and made all that much sweeter knowing I’d paid less for this flight than a takeaway would cost me. As I landed in Heathrow, I realised that by landing in the UK my travel insurance was again validated, and I could legitimately jump on the next flight out. While waiting for my bag to come out on the carousel, I checked the flights that were leaving that day to see if there were any last minute bargains I could jump on. Of course there weren’t, I’d been wishful thinking, and instead jumped on the train bound for London and then to my hometown.
I could say that I was happy to be back in England, but in reality, I was already searching for my next flight…